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Szrom’s Walk-Off Blast Powers Panthers Sweep

Header pic: Tori Szrom – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics

On Tuesday, the Florida Tech Panthers earned a sweep of the Wilmington Wildcats, winning game one 11-5 and game two 2-1 in a regional matchup at Nancy Bottge Field.

Tori Szrom had three hits on the day with only one in game two. It was the only one that mattered, as she rocketed one out of the park to give the Panthers the walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh. 

Ashley Campbell led the Panthers’ 14 hit attack in game one, as she went 3-for-3 with four RBIs. Chloe French had two hits and two RBIs, Tori Szrom had two hits and an RBI and Mikayla Wessel went 2-for-4 with a run scored. 

“I liked our offense and defense,” in that first game,” said Panthers coach Val Silvestrini by phone after the game. “We had runners on base every single inning and our pitchers kept us in the game. We needed all four tonight.”

Sara Miller made some noise in this one for the Wildcats and it started in the top of the first with an RBI single off of Florida Tech starting pitcher Samantha Guider

The Panthers answered quickly in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff double from Wessel, who scored on an RBI single from Cheyenne Nelson, tying the game at one. French would double home Nelson to make it 2-0 and after an error loaded the bases, Mikayla Lewin scored on Szrom’s bunt single. The Panthers’ final run of the inning came across on a Campbell sacrifice fly.

Wilmington would get a home run from Miller in the top of the third and all of a sudden, the Wildcats were within one, 4-3. That didn’t last long, as the Panthers got those runs back and more in the bottom of the inning.

Ella Chang Gibson walked and went to third on Szrom’s double off the center-field wall. They would be chased home on a Campbell double, making it 6-3.  Nelson’s sac fly later in the inning scored Campbell and it was 7-3.

The Wildcats got one run in the fourth on an error, but the Panthers defense stepped up as French snared a line drive off the bat of pinch-hitter Isabella Eleazar and then threw a runner out at the plate on an attempted double steal, ending the inning.

Lewin doubled to start the Panthers half of the fourth and after a pitching change, French singled her home, giving the Panthers an 8-4 lead.

In the top of the fifth, Guider (6-3) was relieved by Allison Platon. Guider gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits in four innings. She struck out three and did not walk a batter, throwing 33 of her 54 pitches for strikes.

Platon would give up a single but got some help as the Panthers turned a 6-4-3 double play. She would then get a strikeout to end the inning. The Panthers looked poised to add a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Campbell was thrown out attempting to turn a triple into an inside-the-park home run.

Campbell would make up for it in the bottom of the sixth. Two errors helped load the bases for the Panthers and after Gibson doubled off the high wall in center to drive in two, Campbell would single home the Panthers’ 11th and final run of the contest.

Eleazar homered for Wilmington to start the seventh, but Platon worked out of a jam that saw the Wildcats leave two aboard to end the game.

For more info: Wilmington (DE) @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)

Game two had fewer runs but the excitement level was ratcheted up. Kelsie Rivers got the start in the circle against Wilmington’s game one starter Kylee Gunkel who lasted seven batters in the first game and 6.1 innings in game two.

Wilmington had three hits in the first four innings and scored the first run of the game in the fourth. A double by Lauren Lopez put runners at second and third for the Wildcats and a sac fly by Gabbie Saucedo gave Tiffin a 1-0 lead.  

Rivers gave Florida Tech five solid innings, allowing one run on five hits. She struck out one and did not walk a batter, throwing 65 pitches. Alex Hendrian (4-2) came in to start the sixth for the Panthers. 

That 1-0 Wildcats lead would hold until the bottom of the sixth. Ellis doubled and went to third on a sac bunt by Wessel. Nelson would then smack a single to left to tie the game, 1-1.

“We could not make any adjustments on the pitcher to that point,” said Silvestrini. That inning we got something going and Ellis hit the ball hard and it was great execution with Mikayla moving the runner over and Chey bringing her in.”

Hendrian got the Panthers out of the seventh thanks to a double play ball behind her, setting the home team up for a walk-off chance in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Szrom blasted one over the wall and Florida Tech walked it off, and earned a doubleheader sweep in the process.

“We talk about timing the pitcher and crowding the plate,” Silvestrini said. “She did that, saw a good pitch, and got a good swing on it.”

“Tori is the best walk-off hitter we’ve had at Florida Tech,” Silvestrini continued. “Two years ago they would walk (Tina Velazquez) and Tori would come with runners on and get a big hit for us. This is not anything new for Tori.” 

For more info: Wilmington @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)

The Panthers (13-7) will host the Tiffin Dragons on Thursday, March 3 in a doubleheader, beginning at 4:00 p.m.

“I expect a very similar team to the one we saw today,” Silvestrini said of Tiffin. “They will be scrappy and get runners on base. As long as we play Florida Tech softball and get our hitting, pitching, and defense, we should be fine.”